Exploring the area around Rajpath
Gurgaon is about 30km SW of Delhi. A new expressway connects the 2 cities and has made the commute between them much more manageable. So we plan to explore Delhi this week while staying in Gurgaon. For the commute, we’ll use one of the family cars and hire a driver for about Rs.350 a day (about 10 hours).
On Sunday, Madhu’s brother and sister-in-law took us to the India International Center in South New Delhi for lunch. They are members there and therefore, have access to its dining hall, which serves good continental food in a wonderful, serene atmosphere. It has an old world charm and feels quite exclusive. We ate leisurely and then drove to Dilli Haat…
We’ve been to Dilli Haat before. Yesterday’s trip was just to look at the handicrafts store and more importantly, eat some of Delhi’s famous chaat. It’s located in the heart of Delhi and finding parking is usually a problem in spite of a couple of designated parking lots next to the bazaar. But we lucked out and found parking easily in one of the lots for Rs.10 per hour. Dilli Haat has food stalls and crafts from different states across the country. I loved browsing through the crafts and jewelry stalls, and was proud of myself for not being tempted into buying anything. But sis-in-law and I couldn’t resist getting mehndi (henna) applied on our palms – it cost Rs.50 for one palm – a bit pricey but we didn’t care. We left after some delicious chaat. Overall, Dilli Haat tends to feel a bit touristy and chaotic but it’s a fun place to check out if one has no other plans for the evening.
Today, we decided to explore Delhi properly and headed out in the morning towards the National Museum, which is on Janpath and quite close to India Gate. However, when we got there we found out that all the Delhi museums are closed on Mondays. What a bummer! But there’s still tons to see in Delhi so we set out on foot towards India Gate, which is on Rajpath – an avenue a block north of, and perpendicular to, Janpath. I’ve seen Rajpath and India Gate on TV on numerous occasions but seeing it in person was phenomenal. The avenue is wide and beautifully maintained with green spaces on either sides. To the east end of it is India Gate and the west end is the magnificent Rashtrapati Bhavan (President’s residence). We walked the whole stretch up one side and down the other. In spite of the mid-day heat, and the long stretch of road between these monuments, it was an enjoyable walk. Visitors are not allowed inside the Rashtrapati Bhavan without prior permission so we took pictures from the outside – its manicured gardens and colonial facade looked absolutely stunning – wish we could have had a closer peek. At the other end, India Gate looked equally imposing and beautiful. It’s a war memorial built in respect towards all the soldiers who were killed during World War I. Names of hundreds of soldiers can be seen inscribed on this monument. Beneath the great arch, is the Amar Jawan Jyoti (Flame of Immortal Warrior), which has been burning constantly since 1971. Apparently, this whole structure is lit up beautifully in the evening – we must stop by one day to catch this.
For lunch, our driver brought us to the famed Khan market. This market has all the top-end stores and is reputed to be the most upscale place to shop in Delhi. When I first heard of the Khan market, I imagined it to be a long avenue with big stores and restaurants at either sides (think Rodeo drive) but when we got there it was a cramped, 3-lane market, with brand name stores stacked closely next to each other. We walked around a bit searching for a place to eat and finally selected a tiny restaurant called China Fare stuck in between the stores.
After lunch (it was already 3:30pm by this time) we headed to the lovely Lodi Gardens. It’s spread over 90 acres and has some wonderful architectural monuments: Bara Gumbad (Big Dome) – a domed entryway for an attached mosque and guest rooms, Sheesh Gumbad (Glass Dome) – a blue-tiled dome that houses an unknown tomb, Mohammed Shah’s tomb and Sikander Lodi’s tomb. These 15th century monuments have been maintained relatively well and the lush green gardens provide a fantastic backdrop for them. Since it was already late afternoon, the heat of the day had mellowed considerably and we could enjoy the place leisurely. It wasn’t crowded either. So there were plenty of photo opportunities. We spent over an hour and a half here and loved every minute of it – this has got to be one of the nicest green spaces, in a city, in India….
Review : Hotel China Fare27 A Khan Market, New Delhi Ph: 9910458866, 24618602
This is a tiny restaurant with just about 6 to 7 tables in a narrow, rectangular, space. The food, though, was excellent. We ordered one of their ‘Executive Non-Veg Meals’ for Rs.210 each (Weekday lunch specials). It came with a soup – choice of Sweet Corn or Hot & Sour, Chicken Chilly, Lamb in Garlic Sauce and choice of Rice or Noodles. Indian Chinese food truly rocks!! This was YUMMY! I’m sure dinner would have been a little more expensive, but for lunch it was good value for money.
Rating : 8 out of 10